The Library of History

Page 83

Page 83 Water, till it puffs up to the bigness of a Pigeons Egg; then bruising it, and rubbing it skilfully in their Hands, they knead it into Dough, and then bake and eat it, being exceeding sweet and delicious Bread to the Taste. There are there both hot and cold large Baths, both for the curing and preventing of Distempers, being exceeding sweet and pleasant. They are learn'd in all sorts of Sciences, especially in Astrology. They use Eight and Twenty particular Letters, for the signifying what they mean, and Seven Characters, every one of which are form'd Four manner of ways. They live long generally, without ever being Sick, to an Hundred and Fifty Years of Age.

Those that are lame, or have any other weakness or infirmity of Body (according to the severe Law of their Country) they put to Death. They write not cross over the Sheet as we do, but begin at the top of the Leaf, and go on in one direct Line down to the Bottom. They have a Law that they may live to such a certain number of Years, and when those are run up, they dispatch themselves by a strange kind of Death; for there's an Herb of a double nature, that grows among them, upon which, if any one lies down, he silently passes away and dies, without any sense of pain, as if he were in a sweet Sleep. They never marry, but make use of Women promiscuously, and breed up the Children so begotten (as common to them all) with equal care and affection to one as well as to another. The Children while they are tender Infants are often chang'd by the Nurses, that they cannot be known by their Mothers; and therefore by that means there being no Ambition among them, they live in great concord and amity, without any Seditions or Tumults. There are Beasts among them very small, but of an admirable property as to their Flesh, and the excellent virtue that is in their Blood. Their Bodies are round, and something like to a Tortoise, divided by Two Streaks which run down the Back; at each end of every Streak they have an Eye and a Mouth; so that they have Four Eyes to see with, and Four Mouths to feed with; but the Meat they eat, is convey'd through one Throat, and hence into the Belly, the common Receptacle of all: And so in like manner they have but one Gut, nor but one of every other of the inner Parts: They have many Feet plac'd round their Bodies, and make use of them to go on what side they will. There's a marvelous virtue in the Blood of this little Creature, for it presently at an instant closes all Cuts and gaping Wounds in every Body that has still life in it; and if a Hand, or any other Member of that kind (that is not Vital) be cut off, by the application of this Blood (while the Wound continues green) it heals up again.

Each Society of these Inhabitants do keep many great Birds of a singular Nature, by which they try the Courage of their Children; for they place them upon the Birds Backs, and as many of them as sit fast when the Birds take their Flight, they bring up; but those that faint and are terrify'd, they throw away, as such that can never indure hardship any long time, nor have any generous Spirit in them.

In every Tribe or Society, the eldest governs the rest as King, and all yield him perfect Obedience: If the first put himself to Death (according to the Law) after he has liv'd a Hundred and Fifty Years, the next to him in age succeeds in the chief Command and Authority.

The Sea that surrounds this Island is very rough, and causes very great and high Tides, but the Water is fresh and sweet. The Bear Star, and many other visible with us, are never seen here.

These Islands are Seven in number, equal in bigness one to another, and of the same distance one from another, and the same Laws and Customs are us'd in all of them: And though these Islands afford plenty of Provision out of the natural growth of the Country to all the Inhabitants, yet they use them not luxuriously, but are frugal, and gather only so much as will serve their turns. They do indeed cook for themselves Flesh-meat, and all other sorts of Victuals both rosted and boil'd, but as for Sauces, and other delicate Inventions of that kind by Cooks, and the various Tasts and Savours contriv'd for curious Pallats, they are altogether ignorant of them.

For Gods they worship especially the whole frame of Heaven, because it comprehends all things; and next to that the Sun, and then all the Celestial Bodies. By various ways of Fishing and Fowling, they catch Fish and Fowl of all sorts. There are among them abundance of Fruit-Trees, and Vines, and Olive-Trees, whence they draw great quantity of Oil and Wine.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books